This may be the greatest sermon ever given. What might we learn from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount?
The Greatest Sermon Ever?
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is recorded in Matthew 5. Here is a verse by verse breakdown of verses 3-13 with commentary on its application.
Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
This is not strictly speaking about poor people but I believe it does include them. Those who are poor in spirit see themselves as being humble before God since we know that God opposes the proud and gives grace only to the humble (James 4:6). The word for “opposes” actually means to be “at war with” or resisting God so those who resist God are not being humble before Him, therefore they kingdom of heaven is far from them.
Matthew 5:4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Those who mourn could be those who mourn over their sinfulness but also those who mourn for those who are broken over their condition before a holy God. For those who mourn over their sins they can be comforted in knowing that if they repent and trust in Christ, God will see them as having Jesus’ righteousness because “He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we might be seen as having the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).
Matthew 5:5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
Today, we see the proud, the rich, and those in power who have inherited (or taken by force) most of the earth’s wealth but Jesus looks ahead by saying the meek “shall inherit the earth” indicating this is a future event and is not yet fulfilled. Those who are meek are small in their own eyes but meekness is not weakness. Meekness has been described as power under control because Moses was said to be the meekest man on earth (Num 12:3) but he was most certainly not weak.
Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
David thirsted for God like a deer panting after water (Psalm 42:1). Imagine a deer running for its life and is dying of thirst. When he finds water to drink, he stops at the water’s edge but is still panting (breathing hard) but his desire is so great that he takes a risk and conquers his fear and takes life-giving water in. So those who have a deep hunger and desperate thirst for God will do anything to take in the Word of God and their desire will be bent toward seeking His holiness. God says if they do, they will be satisfied.
Matthew 5:7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”
God is always merciful to those who are merciful. Jesus said that “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you” (Matt 6:14). Those who are merciful have a forgiving spirit and we are never more like God than when we forgive those who hate us and persecute us.
Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
At first glance, this seems humanly impossible but God can create in us a pure heart. David prayed to God saying “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10) so we know it’s possible but not until a person repents and asks for forgiveness which is what Psalm 51 is all about. Paul says that God “did not discriminate between us (the Jews) and them (the Gentiles), for he purified their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:9).
Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
Those who make peace will be blessed. We who have trusted in Christ have peace with God (Rom 5:1) so we can now be called the sons/daughters or children of God but this might be focusing on those who try to be a mediator between those who have disagreements. When we have opportunity to heal a rift between brothers and sisters we play peacemakers. This is very pleasing to God because this is what Jesus did for us (Rom 5:6-11).
Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
If you have never been persecuted for righteousness’ sake then maybe your being an underground Christian and if there isn’t enough evidence to convict you of being a Christian, maybe you ought to examine yourself to see if you are truly in the faith (2 Cor 13:5-10). Paul promised Timothy that everyone who lives a godly life will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12). Paul didn’t say “many” or “a great majority” but all! If you have never been persecuted for your faith then you must not be actively sharing Christ with the lost but if you are persecuted for this, then you have a special blessing from God.
Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Know this…if you share your faith, people will hate you but it is really the message they hate, not you. They will lie about you behind your back, they will say all kinds of evil things about you (like bearing false witness or gossiping) but it will be on Jesus’ account, not yours, and by the way, that’s a good thing. Why do I say that? Because you can rejoice because you’re in good company since they persecuted Jesus and the prophets up to the point of killing them. You know you have a great reward awaiting you in heaven if you are being persecuted for His sake. Peter knew about persecution and he would say, “Bring it on!” Why? He writes that “to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Pet 4:24-14). Imagine that! The “Spirit of glory…rests upon” those who are persecuted for Jesus’ sake. Don’t you want that?
I have only covered the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount because this is where the blessings come from but I want to make these verses personal with you. Anywhere you read the word “you” put in your own name there because these are written for believers. For example if your name were John, read Matthew 5:11-12 like this: “Blessed are you John when others revile you and persecute you John and utter all kinds of evil against you John falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad John because your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you John.” In Matthew 5:3 read it like this if your name is Julie: “Blessed are you Julie if you are poor in spirit, for yours is the kingdom of heaven” and “Blessed are you Julie who mourn, for Julie, you shall be comforted” (Matt 5:4).
Now, use the personal pronoun “you” when you read Matthew 5:5-10 and read it like it is in reality you that this is being written for because it is! “Blessed are you if you are meek, for you shall inherit the earth. Blessed are you if you hunger and thirst for righteousness, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you if you are merciful, for you shall receive mercy. Blessed are you if you are pure in heart, for you shall see God. Blessed are you if you are a peacemaker, for you shall be called a son or daughter of God. Blessed are you if you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.” If there was ever a time when you repented and trusted in Christ, then personalize these and other Scriptures and put your name or “you” in the verses. It will bring the Scriptures to life for these things were written for us and for our children. How can I say that? Paul writes “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom 15:4).
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon